David was 11 years old when a growing tumour forced him to make the 24-hour journey to the home of World Child Cancer’s programme centre in Cameroon, Mbingo Baptist Hospital, where he was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma.
Tumours like David’s grow very rapidly, doubling their mass in 24 to 48 hours. Fortunately, they mostly respond very well to treatment. After five days and a single dose of chemotherapy, David’s tumour dissolved to half its size.
His mother responded by saying the two were going home – a common, problematic attitude among parents with financial constraints who are given false comfort when visual symptoms disappear and as a result abandon treatment prematurely.
David needed to undergo a full treatment cycle for Burkitt lymphoma, which is normally around 4 weeks in duration. For families in this part of Cameroon, the hospital is a long way from home and makes returning home between treatments very difficult. This means they often have to stay on the ward, which leaves other family members struggling cope at home, and causes a loss of financial income for those who mainly rely on subsistence farming.
World Child Cancer is trying to ease the burden of families who are suffering from a loss of income through seed-funding local income-generating activities such as maize farming. The charity also provides funding for food and transport costs to make sure that patients and their care-givers can eat and return home easily.